The annual United Nations General Assembly begins today in Manhattan, and President Obama will be one of the first of the world leaders to address the gathering.
The president is getting a lot of heat for not meeting with any other president or prime minister this week, which is somewhat understandable when it comes to meeting up with Benjamin Netanyahu (the president's snub is deliberate) or Egypt's Mohammed Morsi (the right is already on him for allegedly helping boost a leader with Muslim Brotherhood ties).
But a fascinating story written in today's New York Times written by Helene Cooper and Robert F. Worth that again examines what appears to be a reality about the president - that he really doesn't like to engage with people one on one.
Arab officials echo that sentiment, describing Mr. Obama as a cool, cerebral man who discounts the importance of personal chemistry in politics. “You can’t fix these problems by remote control,” said one Arab diplomat with long experience in Washington. “He doesn’t have friends who are world leaders. He doesn’t believe in patting anybody on the back, nicknames.
“You can’t accomplish what you want to accomplish” with such an impersonal style, the diplomat said.
Similar views of the president's reluctance to personally engaged were expressed in a story written by the New Yorker's Jane Mayer last month. The difference was that story was about Democratic fundraisers put off by Obama's reticence in making small talk with donors who felt slighted.
Does this matter? The Obama administration has been boasting about its foreign policy credentials with the simple sentence that Osama bin Laden is dead. But there's so much more going on in the world than nailing the symbolic head of al Qaeda, and the death of the ambassador to Libya two weeks ago has reverberations. Although the economy remains the number one issue in this election, the president's edge over Mitt Romney could be slipping away. An NBC News/WSJ poll released last week showed he has lost five points on the matter over the past month.
Back here in Florida, jockeying for 2014 politics is already beginning. Over the weekend South Florida Democratic state Senator Nan Rich visited Tampa. She's the only declared Democrat hoping to knock off Rick Scott in two years time.
And nine days from now, the Tampa City Council will revisit the issue of those surveillance cameras in downtown Tampa. But although there's talk of moving some of those cameras into other areas of the city, Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he won't do it if it requires building a new pole for those cameras, which cost $10,000 each.